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Oncotarget

Hypoxia up-regulates SERPINB3 through HIF-2α in human liver cancer cells.


PMID 25544768

Abstract

SERPINB3 is a cysteine-proteases inhibitor up-regulated in a significant number of cirrhotic patients carrying hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and recently proposed as a prognostic marker for HCC early recurrence. SERPINB3 has been reported to stimulate proliferation, inhibit apoptosis and, similar to what reported for hypoxia, to trigger epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and increased invasiveness in liver cancer cells. This study has investigated whether SERPINB3 expression is regulated by hypoxia-related mechanisms in liver cancer cells. Exposure of HepG2 and Huh7 cells to hypoxia up-regulated SERPINB3 transcription, protein synthesis and release in the extracellular medium. Hypoxia-dependent SERPINB3 up-regulation was selective (no change detected for SERPINB4) and operated through hypoxia inducible factor (HIF)-2α (not HIF-1α) binding to SERPINB3 promoter, as confirmed by chromatin immuno-precipitation assay and silencing experiments employing specific siRNAs. HIF-2α-mediated SERPINB3 up-regulation under hypoxic conditions required intracellular generation of ROS. Immuno-histochemistry (IHC) and transcript analysis, performed in human HCC specimens, revealed co-localization of the two proteins in liver cancer cells and the existence of a positive correlation between HIF-2α and SERPINB3 transcript levels, respectively. Hypoxia, through HIF-2α-dependent and redox-sensitive mechanisms, up-regulates the transcription, synthesis and release of SERPINB3, a molecule with a high oncogenic potential.